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July 23, 2014

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U2 live: Play-by-play of the concert

Editor's note: This is the response of Vegas Deluxe's reviewer, live from the U2 concert on April 25, 1997. Geoff Carter phoned in this information from the concert as it was happening.

11:35 The band finished about six minutes ago. The final song was "One," the single whose profits were donated to AIDS research. The screen carried animations of little flying people and people with flower-heads by Keith Haring, an artist who died from AIDS a few years ago.

The ending was a little abrupt and the crowd appeared kind of confused. I think everyone wanted more.

11:20 p.m. This is a band who previously was rarely seen in anything but jeans and jackets, but they have made more costume changes than Liza Minnelli. Edge is wearing a black T-shirt with glitter spelling out "Edge." Bono is in drag: spiked leather jacket and pants, and police hat. Bassist Adam Clayton wears a sleeveless white jumpsuit and orange T-shirt.

10:55 p.m. After they played "Where the Streets Have No Name," the band left the stage for a few minutes. During that time a techno-remix of "Lemon" played and a giant, mirrored lemon on hydraulics began to move out into the crowd. The top popped off like a UFO and the band was inside. A stairway rose up and they walked down to the satellite stage and began to play "Discotheque." The crowd was stunned.

10:30 p.m. The band had to stop in the middle of "Staring at the Sun" because the timing was off. Bono told the crowd, "Just talk amongst yourselves" before the band started over.

Edge was on the satellite stage and brought the house down with a karaoke version of The Monkees' "Day Dream Believer." The crowd went nuts, singing along long after the song ended.

Bono carried an umbrella with an American flag on it during "Bullet the Blue Sky" and then gave it to someone in the crowd.

9:55 p.m. The band played "Pride," which got the crowd singing so loud that Bono could have lip-synced the song since you couldn't hear him anyway. The band played "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and at one point, Bono urged the crowd to sing along, saying "Come on, we're in church now!"

Then the band played "Last Night On Earth" and "Gone" from the new album. But the crowd's reaction was cool. They don't know the new material. A few are sitting down, just staring. They don't know how to react.

The screen is fantastic. It's hard to look at the band because of activity on the screen. Images of the band are interspersed with psychedelic graphics. Many of the images have a shopping motif: carts, malls.

9:30 p.m. U2 took the stage with a techno version of M's "Pop Muzik" and then launched into "I Will Follow." Bono is wearing a black hood and Edge is wearing a cowboy outfit. The bassist, Adam Clayton, is wearing a construction helmet and surgical mask. The stage is everything they promised and more. The arch is lighting up and the whole stadium is red and yellow. The huge screens are flashing international road signs, icons and a sequence featuring an ape evolving into a man pushing a shopping cart.

The crowd was bouncing pretty good during the first three songs, but seem sedate, mellow during "Do You Feel Loved." "I woke up in a pyramid this morning and looked out and saw the New York skyline," says Bono. "This is the only town in the United States where they're not going to notice a 40-foot lemon.A city where dreams come true. Viva Las Vegas!"

8:35 p.m. Rage Against the Machine played a tight, 40-minute set. The crowd near the front was jumping up and down as if the floor was electrified. The best songs of the set were "Killing in the Name," which had the audience singing along, and "Bull on Parade."

"I don't think it's important, the big hit single," U2 vocalist Bono said in 1984. "It's not as if we've opted for the 'pop' format. Pop singles are very boring - pap is probably a better word."

He made that statement in the midst of the band's "Unforgettable Fire" tour, a multi-continent swing that would cement U2's celebrity.

When America first heard this idealistic Irish rock group, Michael Jackson was the self-proclaimed "King Of Pop" and the most popular music act in the world. It was impossible to predict that just over a decade later, Jackson would be publicly shunned owing to a series of child-molestation charges and U2 would embrace pop music entirely, naming their album Pop and creating a touring shrine to popular music and disposable culture called PopMart.

U2's PopMart world tour opens and U2 begin their reign as the new kings of the medium. And if there's a more appropriate place to open a pop music supermarket than Las Vegas, the undisputed "Entertainment Capitol of the World," you just name it.

From here, the PopMart flies on to San Diego, the next stop on a long tour that will take them all over North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa, including a stop in war-torn Sarajevo.

The band flees tonight with 500 tons of equipment, 16 buses and 250 touring personnel, but they won't be able to take one important asset with them.

"Goodbye, you can keep this suit of lights," Bono sings in "Gone." Guess you can take the band out of Las Vegas, but to attempt the opposite... Let's just say that if the band ever tires of touring, we know a place that's already getting millions of visitors a year. We would love to have them back, and they'll have their pick of "big rooms" to rock. A kingdom worthy of the new, undisputed "kings of pop." If you can think of someone more worthy of that title, you just name them.

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